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Just when you thought you were done with all the 20th anniversary stories about the home ballpark of your Toronto Blue Jays!

I attended Sunday's game against the Royals and got to witness the awesomeness of Doc Halladay as he won his 10th game of 2009 with a complete game shutout.  It occurred to me before yesterday's game that the very first two games I went to at the SkyDome were back to back games against Kansas City.  The first game was on August 1, 1989.  That contest marked the debut of one of the most popular players in franchise history - none other than MOOOOOOOOOOOK - Mookie Wilson!  He was acquired the day before from the New York Mets for pitcher Jeff Musselman and Mike Brady (not the one from the Brady Bunch, presumably!).  Mazzilli was plucked off of waivers from the Mets on the same day.

My recollections of the game were Mookie getting hosed out of his first base hit as he beat out an infield grounder but the first base ump disagreed, much to the chagrin of the 48,000-plus at the game.  From minute one, he was an instant fan favourite as the fans chanted MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK every time up.  It was a tight pitching duel between Todd Stottlemyre and Bret Saberhagen and the Jays trailed 1-0 until my friend Gord correctly predicted that Ernie Whitt was going to hit one out on the next pitch.  Sure enough, that's exactly what happened and the game was tied at 1-1 after seven. 

The lead was short-lived when the Royals got two singles to put runners on the corners with nobody out.  It should've been first and second but "The Shaker" Lloyd Moseby had a problem with the ball taking a huge hop off the astroturf, allowing the runner to get to third.  Duane Ward came in to try to hold the runners but a ground ball double play off the bat of the immortal Matt Winters plated the winning run in a 2-1 Royals win.  I remembered being upset with Moseby because he was picked off at first base earlier in the game so it wasn't a banner night for him.

Still, I was very impressed with the SkyDome itself and really enjoyed our seats just off home plate on the first base side in the 100 level.  I think I said "Holy shoot!" (or some facsimile thereof!) about 100 times before the game.  I was even more impressed with John Cerutti as he enjoyed his best-ever start in the bigs August 2, 1989 as the Jays crushed the Royals 8-0.   Cerutti had a no-hitter going for 5 1/3 innings before George Brett hit a ground-rule double.  Not a bad guy to lose a no-hit bid to, I suppose.  Fred McGriff was the first Jay I saw take one deep followed by Mazzilli, of all people.  He was 3-for-3 with two walks in his Blue Jay debut.  Not too shabby!  My other highlight from that game was seeing the roof close for the first time.  It was open until late in the game and it was closed shut just about the same time as Brett lined out to Manny Lee at second to end the game.

Almost 20 years later, I still love going to this park.  Is it the best park in the majors?  No, it isn't (PNC Park in Pittsburgh is!) but I love it just the same.  I like the changes that have been made to the Dome in recent years - including the new turf, the radar gun scoreboard, the ribbon scoreboards and the out-of-town scoreboards on the outfield wall. 

Changes I would like the see would be more radar gun scoreboards, the extension of the ribbon scoreboards all the way around the stadium, and installing glass somewhere along the stadium's roof to give the place more out of an outdoor feel when the roof is closed.  Something similar to Ford Field, home of my Detroit Lions.

As far as I'm concerned, the upper deck seats are pretty good (especially if you have a Season Pass!) and the retractable roof is still awesome.  Really, there's no other place I'd rather spend my spring and summer days and nights than the ol' Concrete Convertible watching my beloved Jays.  It's where I took my future missus on our first date, a thriller against the Orioles on August 4th, 2002 where she got to see the roof close for the first time during a game.  I prefer outdoor games and I would like to see the roof open but I sure appreciate the roof being closed when the weather sucks in April.  I feel sorry for Twins fans who'll have no retractable roof at Target Field next season. 

When I look back at all the games I've been to, there's been more good times than bad and I sure hope to spend another 20 years and hopefully another 20 years and another 20 after that going to the Rogers Centre where I'll hopefully see more World Series pennants hanging up in the rafters!

A Personal 20th Anniversary Of Baseball At SkyDome/Rogers Centre | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Magpie - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 12:56 AM EDT (#200979) #
You have me trying to figure out the first game I saw at the Old Dome. I'm pretty sure it was this one.

I was already scoring games for STATS, but we didn't get press box access until 1990. Anyway, I remember it was Seattle, I remember the roof was closed, and that the Jays came from behind to win in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth. You'd think that would narrow it down, but no - it could have been either Friday June 16, or Saturday the 17th. Both games ended with the Jays coming from behind to win in the bottom of the ninth. But I think it had to be the Saturday game. On a Friday night, Liam's mother would have been working, so I would have had to rush home from work, feed Liam, transport him to a babysitter and hurry on down to the park. I think I most likely waited until Saturday...

My memory also tells me that Randy Johnson was pitching, he was utterly dominant, but the Jays stayed close and beat the bullpen. This is definitely my memory playing me false, and remembering this game two years later. After all these years, and all those games, they can blur together a little bit.
Matthew E - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 09:17 AM EDT (#200989) #
Can't remember my first game. I know I was there for a Mike Flanagan win in early '90, where Ward got the save, but that wasn't my first time there.
MatO - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 10:00 AM EDT (#200994) #
My first games at the Dome was the last home doubleheader (I think) the Jays have had..  It was against the Angels July 17, 1989.  There was a rainout earlier that season at the Ex so this was the make-up.  I sat in the best seats I've ever had for a game at the Dome, just above the 1st base dugout.  David Wells won both games in relief and Tom Henke saved both games.  Fred McGriff hit one off the restaurant in CF, which was a big deal at the time but now not so much.  I remember turning to my friend and saying that Henke seemed to be back in top form now and he went on to have a big year.
Magpie - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 10:27 AM EDT (#200998) #
I was at that double-header! The David Wells sweep!

Always tried to make it to double-headers at the old Ex. Liam's mum and I were at the one against Boston in 1983 (I think), when Jim Rice hit three homers in the second game. And we were also there (along with her dad, Liam's grandpa) for a September double-header against Oakland in 1982. Mark Eichhorn, the Game 2 starter, almost got his first major league win that night. Hey, he took an 11-1 lead into the seventh inning. The bullpen somehow coughed it all up, but the Jays won in the bottom of the ninth to get the sweep.

Mike D - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 11:24 AM EDT (#201003) #

My first was this one -- the first fully indoor game in Toronto.  Seeing a ballgame indoors felt so strange.  137 pitches for Frank Tanana! 

MatO - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 11:41 AM EDT (#201005) #

Loved those double-headers too.  We knew a guy who worked part-time at Dominion so we could get those $1 bleacher tickets without having to buy anything.  $1 for a double-header!  The best deal in history.  I was at the Aug 2, 1983 double-header (thank you Baseball Reference) against the Yankees which I think set the attendance record at the time of 45,102.  Of course, where some people were sitting in the bleachers, you couldn't really charge more than $2 (or $1 at Dominion).  Oh yeah, the Jays swept the double-header and it may have been the high-point of the season as the bullpen would collapse later that month.

Mike Green - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 12:05 PM EDT (#201006) #
Oh yeah.  Double-headers for a buck.  I was at the Yankee doubleheader in 1983, way, way back in centerfield.  As a starving student with a good back, I really appreciated the $5.50 bench seats down the first base line.  Almost as good a deal as Dire Straits for $5 at Convocation Hall.  We do become our parents...

The truth is that I really do not care for the Dome, even when it is open.  Too much concrete and not enough natural light make it a cold environment for a warm game.

Chuck - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 12:21 PM EDT (#201010) #
I'm with Mike on the Dome. Feels WAY too much like a generic, antispectic, concrete, soul-less corporate venue than a true ball park. Definitely a product of its times, even if the old sow is now smeared with lipstick.
Dewey - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#201011) #
Saturday, June 10, 1989.   Jimmy Key gives up six hits in three innings and is gone.  But I did catch a foul ball, on a pitch by Key that the celebrated Rick Schu of the Tigers sent whizzing into Section 117.  Made my day.  Jays lost 11-8, but the catch redeemed matters.  The unnecessary noise levels are the worst thing about the Dome for me.  (Yes, I do remember the old aluminum seats at the Ex.  The day the Jays clinched the Division in 1985 was about the only time it really *didn't* matter.)
mathesond - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 01:48 PM EDT (#201014) #
Hey, I was at that '83 Yanks doublle-header as well - I was 13. My friends and I pooled together $14 to buy 3 $2 tickets from a scalper, and wound up sitting in section 50 (out of 51). I can still see Garth Iorg running through Jimy Williams' stop sign to score the winning run in the 10th - I've never felt that much excitement in a crowd since. The 13-6 laugher in the nightcap was probably for the best, from a cardiac standpoint
Magpie - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#201015) #
The truth is that I really do not care for the Dome, even when it is open.

I actually like it at night, if the roof is open and we have a lively crowd. I'm not sure if it feels like baseball, but it feels like something special. But day games, or any game with the roof closed - it can be a little drab if you don't have a noisy crowd of at least 40,000.
#2JBrumfield - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 01:57 PM EDT (#201016) #

My first games at the Dome was the last home doubleheader (I think) the Jays have had..  It was against the Angels July 17, 1989.

It was the first doubleheader but not the last.  The Jays and Indians played two at the Dome back on October 5, 2001 when the good guys won Game 1 and Game 2.  I think a game was rained out in Cleveland earlier so that's why they played two in Toronto. 

Jeremy - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#201023) #
My first game at the Dome was May 29, 1992, with my school's 8th grade.  Way up in Section 543.  Guzman vs. the White Sox' Greg Hibbard.  The Jays scored 3 in the 8th to win 3-0.  Also was George Bell's first game back as a visitor, not counting the '91 All-Star Game. We laughed as he went 0-4 with 2 K's and a GDP.
James W - Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#201030) #
Just a humble opinion, but roof open or closed, the important thing is having a lively crowd.  For reference, consider Halladay-Burnett, which was an outstanding atmosphere even with the roof closed.
A Personal 20th Anniversary Of Baseball At SkyDome/Rogers Centre | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.